A vote on the design of Town Branch Commons, envisioned as a long, narrow park following the path of the historic stream now buried beneath downtown Lexington, is set for Monday (Feb. 4) by the Downtown Development Authority Board.
The design will be the winner of a competition involving leading architects and designers from around the world.
“We invited firms to submit a design for the park, which will wind through downtown along the path of Town Branch,” Mayor Jim Gray said. “We were thrilled to receive interest from 23 outstanding firms and felt a design competition would give us an opportunity to consider a variety of ideas and to gather public input.”
Gray said Town Branch Commons will provide “a great reason to work downtown, move a business downtown, live downtown, visit downtown or have fun downtown. Other cities have done it with extraordinary results.” Town Branch Commons would also serve as a nod to local history — Lexington was founded along the banks of the stream at McConnell Springs.
A three-member committee including Michael Speaks, dean of the University of Kentucky College of Design, Ned Crankshaw, chairman of the UK Department of Landscape Architecture and Jeff Fugate, president of the Downtown Development Authority, whittled the list of 23 firms to five who are now participating in a design competition.
The five firms are COEN+PARTNERS, Minneapolis; CIVITAS, Denver; INSIDE OUTSIDE: Petra Blaisse, Amsterdam; JDS,Copenhagen; and SCAPE / LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE, New York.
Each finalist will receive a $15,000 honorarium paid for with a private gift.
Design competition submittals are due Thursday, when design teams will visit Lexington for a jury presentation and to participate in various public events sponsored by the University of Kentucky’s Gaines Center for the Humanities, UK’s College of Design and Department of Landscape Architecture, and the Fayette Alliance.